The most casual (and dare I say, the least interesting) of Tom Colicchio's restaurant portfolio. A relatively inexpensive menu with the recklessness of bar food and the thoughtfulness of someone so experienced in the discipline contribute to Craftbar's lasting appeal and energy.
Because it shares part of its name with Colicchio's exemplary flagship restaurant, the ways in which the food at Craftbar pale in comparison to Craft become jarringly apparent almost immediately upon dining. Among the main courses, which read like an obsessively American dream about salt and fat and include a Veal Breast Roulade, Buttermilk Fried Young Chicken, and Cassoulet with confit duck leg and foie gras, the Veal Ricotta Meatballs and Capellini stand out, with a thick basil and plum tomato sauce that reflects Colicchio's commitment to seasonal seasoning (how about that!) and innovative, farm-friendly vegetables and spices.
The small plates and snacks are a little easier to digest and more suited to the loud and youthful evening atmosphere the dim but elegant space commands. The Whipped Ricotta Toast with shitake mushrooms, pickled Fresno chili peppers, lemon, and Aleppo pepper is a subtle, creamy delight with alternating notes of citrus and spice, while the White Anchovy and Soft Egg Toast with lemon aioli and confit leek is heartier, with a full-bodied eggy flavor. The Pecorino Arancini and the selection of cheeses and charcuterie are also inexpensive, well-made options, contributing to the mass appeal and accessibility of Craftbar.
Service is warm and casual, often the highlight of a meal whose food won't necessarily wow anyone coming in with higher expectations. That's not to say that Craftbar isn't worth a visit though, particularly during its vibrant weekend scene when the dining room seems to boom with pleasure from well-priced wines and indulgent eats. It's just to clarify that those looking to try a little of Craft's extraordinary cooking will not find any version of it at Craftbar. But they will find a rich, protein-oriented menu with heavy handed flavors well suited to the dynamic, bar-fueled space.